Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), established in 1971 by the Royal College of Physicians, campaigns on eliminating the harm caused by tobacco.
Their latest survey on the use of electronic cigarettes in the UK (May 2016), carried out by YouGov, and working with King’s College, London, has some very interesting stats on the state of play of vaping in the UK.
- There are 2.8 million adults in the UK currently vaping, up from only 700,000 in 2012, the year that ASH began collecting data.
- Users are fairly evenly divided between smokers and ex-smokers.
- The main reason for vaping given by ex-smokers is to help them stop smoking, and current smokers say that they are vaping to help them cut down the amount they smoke.
- The other major consideration was cost, with 47% of respondents saying that vaping was saving them money.
Despite this large increase in the number of people vaping, inaccurate perceptions of harm from e-cigarettes persist. While the Royal College of Physicians has recently published findings that estimate vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco, only 15% of the public accurately believe that electronic cigarettes are a lot less harmful than smoking.
Unfortunately these misconceptions were most apparent among smokers, with 16% reporting that they would be more likely to try vaping if they were more sure that it was safe.
Some of this misconception seems to stem from beliefs about the danger of nicotine itself. Many people (44%) erroneously believed that nicotine is the major source of health risk from smoking, while only 8% were aware that nicotine itself constitutes a very small risk to health.
Other popular misconceptions regularly seen in mainstream media are also covered by the survey. An additional survey of children aged 11 to 18 was conducted, which found that vaping amongst children and young people is rare, and vaping is in fact confined almost exclusively to current or ex smokers.Read the full ASH fact sheet on the use of e-cigarettes in Great Britain